Jointly campaigning for better working conditions
Helping social and environmental standards become mainstreamed at national and international level requires a concerted effort by government, businesses, employers’ associations, trade unions, and non-governmental organisations. That is why we are involved in various initiatives – both at industry level and beyond.
For freedom of association and collective bargaining: Framework agreement with the IndustriALL Global Union
In September 2016, Tchibo became the first German trading company to sign a framework agreement with the IndustriALL Global Union. This step reinforces our commitment to improving working conditions, including trade freedom of association and collective bargaining in the production countries. This idea is to make it easier for our consumer goods suppliers’ employees and local trade unions in the factories to bargain collectively on wages, social benefits and working hours in their companies and across the industry.
Tchibo has been working with the IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliated trade union members for ten years. A global federation of trade unions in the manufacturing sectors, IndustriALL is an important partner in cases of complaints at the factories, in the development of strategies and programmes, and in the cooperation with other companies on building and fire safety in Bangladesh.
For more safety in the workplace: Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
In 2012, Tchibo became the world’s second company to sign the 'Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh' in Bangladesh, which was initiated by leading trade unions and NGOs. Since May 2013, more than 200 other international clothing companies have joined the accord. As a member of the steering committee from November 2014 to September 2015, Tchibo promoted the implementation of these measures together with representatives of other companies and trade unions. The agreement, which initially is valid through May 2018, focuses on fire, electrical and building safety inspections by independent experts. If deficiencies are discovered, the owners are obligated to resolve them with concrete measures within specified deadlines. By the end of 2014, inspections were completed at all factories that produce for Tchibo in Bangladesh. We support the owners and work with the factories to continuously improve building and fire safety, for example through the modernisation of fire protection systems. The employees are encouraged and trained not only to recognise safety risks, but also to report them. In 2017, the agreement was renewed to beyond May 2018. This ensures that factory improvement measures will continue to be monitored by independent bodies and that workers' rights will be strengthened until the public authorities in Bangladesh have created the structures necessary to continue the work done by the Accord.
For living wages: ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) on living wages
Together with other clothing and textiles traders and the IndustriALL Global Union, Tchibo works in the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) initiative to promote industry-wide wage bargaining between social partners as equals. The initiative aims to establish industry-wide collective bargaining in all production markets, supported by training in factories and in the trade unions. Living wages are to become a reality for all the country’s textile industry workers regardless of which factories they work at, and what manufacturers or brands they produce for. Rules for fair purchasing practices for all global retailers are meant to reduce wage pressure. The aim of such a sectoral approach is also that there is no distortion of competition, because all production sites have to pay higher wages. Tchibo is actively involved in the initiative and is a member of the Purchasing Practices working group.
For social and ecological standards along the supply chain: Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
In October 2014, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) joined forces with representatives of the textile industry, trade unions, civil society and international sustainability initiatives and standard organisations to launch the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. The aim of this alliance of business, policymakers, non-governmental and standards organisations, trade unions, and science and academe, is to improve social and environmental standards across the entire textile value chain.
We joined the alliance in 2015. We are active in all of the alliance’s working groups. In August 2017, as part of our work in the alliance, we published our ‘roadmap’ for 2017. It contains 15 measures to further improve the environmental and working conditions in our textile supply chains.
As part of our membership, we are currently supporting two initiatives:
A multi-stakeholder process to systematically improve the working conditions of girls and young women in spinning and textile mills in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and an initiative to develop chemicals and environmental management based on our strategic alliance with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Rewe Group.
In 2017, the Alliance initiated a water management project in Pakistan that will reduce the extremely high level of water consumption in the cotton supply chain and thus also alleviate the conflict with the drinking water supply.
For labour and social standards in the textile and clothing sector in Myanmar
In 2016, we launched another collaboration with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). As part of the GIZ ‘Working and Social Standards in the Textile and Clothing Sector in Asia’ project, we are committed to upholding human rights and labour standards in Myanmar. We are carrying out a joint training programme at our four core suppliers in Myanmar, with the aim of strengthening and improving the social dialogue between management, employees, their representatives, and business associations. In addition to GIZ, the national member union of the IndustriALL Global Union, CTMU, is our local partner, because the trainings in Myanmar are part of our activities under the framework agreement with IndustriALL.
For clean production: Establishing local Detox advisory structures
Many suppliers and their own suppliers rely on consulting services to fulfil the ambitious Detox Commitments goals. However, these offers as well as local networks are often lacking in these places. The cooperation between Tchibo and the Rewe Group and the German Society for International Cooperation GIZ), supported by the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles as a coalition initiative, is currently developing a programme to train Detox consultants and instructors. The project aims to create local advisory structures in China and Bangladesh and locally assist producers in establishing a Detox-compatible chemicals management system.
For the organic cotton sector: Organic Cotton Accelerator
Cotton is the number one commodity used in Tchibo consumer goods, which is why Tchibo is committed, at various levels, to sustainability in the cultivation and processing of cotton. As a founding member of the 'Organic Cotton Accelerator' (OCA) multi-stakeholder initiative, we advocate an expanding organic cotton sector that benefits everyone – from farmer to consumer.
OCA members work in joint development projects to accelerate the structural transformation from conventional to more organic cotton (cultivation and use) as quickly as possible, i.e. both to increase the demand for organic cotton and organic cotton products, and to support farmers in the cultivation of organic cotton. This includes fair purchasing practices, improving farmers' access to high-quality organic cottonseed, and the integrity of processes across all stages of the supply chain.